I live in San Francisco. A city where you are constantly being bombarded by the next new shiny gadget, the next billion dollar idea, and the next Mark Zuckerberg.

In the midst of all this noise, it is very important to me to focus on the things that will help me accomplish the things I need to.

Here are 3 hacks that have worked for me so far:

Learn to say no, and don’t feel bad.

I wrote an article yesterday about how I’m going to cancel all my meetings, or at least cut them in half.

Learning to say no is a very important skill. It helps you focus on what is truly important.

But in order to say no, you should have a reason for saying no. You need a way to know when to say no.

How can you do that? How do you find that reason? Without thinking about that reason, it is very easy to say yes a lot.

Ask yourself — What is it that you are truly trying to accomplish?

Are you a CEO of a company, trying to grow your client base?

Are you a designer looking for your next gig?

Did you just get laid off, and need to find a new job?

Figure out what it is you want to accomplish, and create your goal.

Maybe you need to get to a million users in 6 months. Maybe you need to find a design gig by the end of this week. Maybe you need to get an interview at your dream company by the end of this month.

Whatever it is that you are pursuing, think about it in lots of detail, and create your goal. Write it down. That is the first step. That is your north star.

Once you have created your goal, you need to evaluate every opportunity by asking yourself — “Does this new opportunity help me get to my north star?”.

If it doesn’t help you accomplish your goal. Say NO!

If it does help you move in the right direction, say YES!

Simple stuff.

Stop wasting time. Find ways to create more time.

There are many things I do to create more time for myself. I get my dinner delivered to the office. This helps me stay focused and it’s just one less thing I need to think about.

Maybe you’re taking too many coffee breaks. Maybe your 10 minute break turns into a 45 min break, because you get sucked into some YouTube video, or you start responding to emails that you weren’t supposed to check until later that day.

There are many scenarios I can write about, but you get the point.

Stop wasting time and learn to make more time.

For example: I have started walking more, because I recently found that it is easier for me to walk to a meeting than call for an Uber/Lyft (if my meeting is within walking distance of course, like less than 2 miles from my office), because I actually save time.

I’m not waiting around for some driver. I can play an audio book, or listen to music, or even record some voice notes for ideas for blog posts I want to write. Plus I get some exercise. I’m moving my body which leads me to my next point.

Take care of your health.

Find at least 30 minutes for exercise every day. Satya Nadella, the CEO of Microsoft, said that the first thing he does after getting out of bed every morning is he puts on his running shoes.

Find 30 minutes. Whether it is in the morning or evening or whenever. Just find 30 minutes to exercise.

Health is wealth.

You will never be able to do all the things you want to do in life, if your health is messed up. So pay attention to your health. Listen to your body.

Thinking about it now, I should have put this as the first point, but I’ll just leave it here.

And keep in mind, you should learn to find a balance with all this. Don’t entirely neglect serendipity and random opportunities that come your way. Like Steve Jobs famously said:

You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.

Let me know what you do to make your life more productive and successful.